Author：Verbena C. W，Elaine Yang
Several days ago, a certain news item made a splash across China’s social networks. The gist of it was that Europeans have become enamoured of mahjong, and that when they play it, they always say such words as “bid, pass, mahjong” out loud — in Chinese. And there are some on the web who have put out the rumour that during China’s Qing dynasty, mahjong had already begun to be played by Europe’s social elite. That news could be suspected of being sensationalist, but no matter what, Chinese people are passionate about mahjong; when they hear that foreigners like to play it also, many people get a feeling of pride and happiness. Approximately last year some time, a page full of English and pinyin of “mahjong strategies” became very popular on the internet. When it was first published in micro-blog form, it received more than 200 reply threads and was forwarded more than 1000 times.
In China playing mahjong is not just a game anymore; it is a reflection of a kind of relaxed and optimistic attitude toward life. Under the increasingly tense work pressures in Chinese society, playing mahjong is becoming more and more of a luxury. Besides traditional board games, Western board games are also popular in China, such as Settlers of Catan, Monopoly, Mall of Horror, and so on. Furthermore, payers even go to board game bars to play Cosplay, running around as chess pieces wearing realistic zombie outfits, and shouting out slogans like “life is not complete unless you’ve played board games with strangers!”
“San Guo Sha” （Killers of Three Kingdoms)is the hottest board game in China right now. It borrows its structure from many famous board games and draws material from the Chinese literary classic, “Romance of the Three Kingdoms,” meticulously integrating all sorts of ability cards to form a board game that is a great amalgamation of history, literature, and art.
But there are far more males than females playing “San Guo Sha,” so in the past couple of years “Lady Cards” has come out, becoming the new favourite of female players. The game has its origins in a drinking game of cards popular in ancient China. The host lets players take turns drawing cards, and on each card is a description and penalty for some sort of woman. For example, the description of a “credit card woman” is “driven by money,” and the penalty is to “drink a shot of liquor.” A player who draws this card must go by impressions to guess who seems to fit this description and choose someone. The person pointed to can decide to defend herself, and if she successfully changes her image in everyone’s eyes, then the person who drew the card is punished. Through the “impressions” of different friends, fictitious social characters are reflected in the game, and these are used to enhance social skills. It is a game that is very popular among white-collar workers.